Dundee HSFP v GHA Mayfield , 27th January 2018
After disappointing back to back defeats against Kelso and Edinburgh Accies, Dundee went into this match sitting in 6th place in BT National League One.
The chat in the Mayfield clubhouse was that this home match against GHA – sitting one place above Dundee but only 2 points ahead -was a must win match.
The 77 lunch clubbers were in good spirits – thanks to match sponsor Harry Fairbairn BMW and lunch club sponsor J&E Shepherd. As in previous weeks Mayfield was again anointed by rugby royalty , this time in the form of ex player and current Scotland international Alasdair Dickinson . Alasdair , although currently injured , has amassed 58 Scotland caps and is indeed the highest capped ex Dundee player.
As always, Head Coach Colin Sangster addressed the Lunch Club and informed the assembles masses that the Club had received good news and bad news this week. Good news in that young prop Murphy Walker had been called up to the Scotland U-20 squad for the U-20 6 Nations. This was a fantastic achievement for a young lad in his first few months in senior rugby. The bad news was that Murphy would not be available for Dundee until after the 6 Nations ie after 17 March. This prompted one lunch clubber to ask of Alasdair Dickinson, “Dicko – have you got your boots – we need a prop?” After debate, it was agreed that the national interest must come first and Dicko declined the invitation.
Although Murphy was out, there was some good news on the prop front with both Broonie and James Forrester returning to action. Kevin Franco continued at hooker, George and Neil were in the row, whilst in the back row Ally Mackie was a welcome return, with youngsters Lewis McNamara and Ross Milne as flankers. In the backs, Josh and Ice returned at 9 and 14 respectively, although Neil Herron was still out injured.
The Titans were also playing GHA and it was noted that in the GHA 2nd XV was Ranji Jerevich , one of Scottish rugby’s real good guys , who also holds the post of Rugby Convener at GHA.
It was with some relief that it was confirmed that the Titans had not seen fit to reciprocate in their team selection and that our own Rugby Convener Ken Andrew had not made the Titans starting XV. However, the Titans did have their particularly experienced player in Davie Mason who made up a centre partnership with 18 year old Sean Gauld. Davie is a tad over 18…. However , this illustrates one of the endearing aspects of amateur rugby , when a young blade with huge potential is partnered alongside a player who was been there , seen it , done it , been round the block a few times and is there to guide and advice the youngster. It is fair to say that given the nature of his mentor, Sean will not be short of words of advice…..
The 1st XV kicked off with GHA attacking the Dalgleish Road end with a strong wind in their favour.A
The initial period of the match was even, with wind advantage meaning that GHA had the majority of the possession. It was noticeable early on that their half back combination (Andrew Goudie at 10 and Andrew Gillman at 9) were lively and this theme was to continue throughout the match.
Indeed after a period of pressure, GHA drew first blood with a close range penalty by Goudie , after the Dundee backs had strayed offside. 3-0 GHA.
The Dundee team slowly creaked into gear and their big men – Ally, Broonie and Neil – became influential , gaining valuable yards each time they were in possession. This was eventually rewarded when following a scrum in the GHA 22, Ally Mackie picked up and displayed sheer power and determination to batter past 2 lines of defenders and make the line for a try. Harvey’s conversion was impressively accurate, considering it was against the wind. 7-3 Dundee.
The Mayfield faithful anticipated that Dundee would now step up a gear, but following a period of play in the midfield, it was GHA who scored next. Fly half Goudie’s kick ahead found space where you would have expected Dundee to have defenders. But they didn’t and this enabled GHA winger Spowart to be unchallenged as they touched down. The conversion was missed . 8-7 GHA.
Amongst the crowds on the touchline watching both the 1st XV, were 3 generations of the famous Paladini family – Sandro , Jack and dog. This peace of this pleasant Saturday afternoon family outing was shattered when dog suddenly broke his lead and bolted onto the 1st XV pitch where the respective scrums were about to pack down. Talented back Jack – currently unavailable for selection due to a wrist injury – displayed a turn of speed hitherto unseen during his appearances for the Dundee 1st XV, by chasing after and retrieving dog before he reached the scrum.
The pattern of the game was now emerging whereby where GHA struggled to cope when Dundee’s big men got going. Neil in particular had some battering runs with Ally and Broonie also to the fore. The chat amongst the Dundee supporters was that the Dundee team had hugely missed their physical presence over the last 2 matches in which Dundee had been defeated.
Indeed, it was the big men that combined to put Dundee back in front after 30 minutes, with Ally again going over after strong forward play following a quickly taken penalty by Harvey. The conversion was missed. 12-8 Dundee
The last 10 minutes of the first half saw GHA have the majority of possession and indeed in the last 5 minutes, they were camped in the Dundee 22. However, strong defence with hooker Franco and young flanker Milne to the fore, underpinned by an admirable determination not to concede any points, enabled Dundee to weather the storm and reach half time ahead.
Half Time – Dundee HSFP 12 GHA 8.
The feeling amongst the Dundee support was that this was a reasonable performance against the wind and it was hoped that Dundee would take advantage of the wind in the second half.
Sometimes what you hope for does come true and this was the case as straight from the restart Dundee scored. George made a break from half way from which he was supported by Neil. Half backs Josh and Harvey carried on and the ball was set up for Ally to crash over from close range and complete a hat trick of tries. Harvey converted. 19-8 Dundee
It was hoped that Dundee would kick on from this and get a couple of scores to give the team and the supporters some breathing space. However, although ground was made through some powerful breaks ,the GHA defence was good and on a couple of occasions when an extra man situation had arisen , the final pass agonisingly did not go to hand.
As mentioned earlier on the GHA halfbacks continued to be lively after 55 minutes GHA got back in the game. A long pass found their winger in space and he scored in the corner. The conversion was missed, but there was now only a converted try between the team.
GHA were well and truly back in the game at this point, aided by the award of a series of penalties. However when Dundee secured possession, they went back to the tactic that had served them best ie get the big guys on the ball and after a battering run by Neil, the ball was recycled quickly. Harvey displayed his good rugby brain by drawing the defence and throwing a long pass to hooker Franco in space. Kevin got his reward for an all-round excellent display by scoring in the corner. Harvey missed the kick. 24-13 Dundee.
This had been an entertaining match between two competitive sides with no hint of anything untoward, so it was a surprise when a flareup took place in the Dundee 22. As normally happens, after a “rammy” for a few seconds involving a number of players, things settled down very quickly
I fully accept that a “rammy” is a word not included in the SRU Techical Jargon dictionary- understandably so as it is a term most normally associated with junior football – but to the uninitiated, it may be translated as a scuffle or a commotion . Certainly nothing to get too concerned about.
The feeling on the touchline that it was “handbags” that would be sorted out by the referee telling the captains to tell their players to cool down and get back to playing the match in the manner in which it had been played up to this flare up.
However, a lengthy discussion between the referee and the assistant referee suggested that maybe more would be made of this.
And indeed there was.
The referee called both captains together, gave them an address in which the words “punch” was allegedly heard and produced a red card for Broonie.
This seemed harsh.
The crowd then waited for a similar red card for a GHA player or at least a yellow on the basis that both teams had players involved in the flare up, so both teams were at fault . Indeed a rammy by its very nature requires at least two participants.
It was therefore anticipated that this apportionment of blame would be recognised in the official’s response to the situation.
However, no other cards were produced. So it was only Dundee that were at fault in the rammy?
This seemed hardly equitable.
This decision meant that Dundee were down to 14 men for the remainder of the match – and uncontested scrums – and naturally this gave GHA heart. Sensing a chance, they upped their game, secured possession and play was concentrated in the Dundee 22. The Dundee defence held firm for a while, until replacement Usuda scored near the posts, converted by Goudie. This brought GHA within 4 points of Dundee with around 3 minutes remaining.
At this stage the collective blood pressure of the Dundee support was rising and they were again reaching for their pills when Harvey put the kick off straight out, meaning an uncontested scrum on the half way line.
GHA secured the ball and moved the ball across the pitch amongst their dangerous backs. A break was made, the ball was moving right and the Mayfield crowd could see to their collective horror that GHA had lined up a 4 man overlap…..
A long pass was thrown to get this overlap into space, when Superman , in the form of Ally Mackie , intercepted the pass on the half way line and , with no one in front of him , headed for the GHA try line.
What followed was one of these rare pieces of sporting drama that you maybe see once or twice a season : Dundee hanging onto a 4 point lead in the last minute of the match ,Ally charging for the GHA line like a runaway rhinoceros , the Mayfield crowd roaring him on and willing him to make the line , the GHA centres and wingers desperately trying to get back to tackle Ally and then the huge roar when he made it to the line for the clinching try.
Not just the clinching try but his 4th try of the match in a quite remarkable performance.
Harvey missed the conversion but nobody really cared as this score had made Dundee safe at 29-20.
In terms of sheer drama , the whistle for no side should have gone then , as nothing could follow the excitement of Ally’s score , but there were still a few seconds to play.
GHA kicked off , Dundee secured possession , went up the pitch , GHA conceded a penalty which Harvey nailed to round off proceedings.
Final Score – Dundee HSFP 32 GHA 20.
First and foremost , this was an important win after two defeats.
The securing of the bonus point was encouraging , as were aspect of the team’s play , while the main memory of the match will be Ally charging for the line for his 4th try , willed on by every Dundee supporter.
The coaches had their easiest decision of the season to make after the match when the man of the match was named as , who else , but Ally Mackie.